Phoenix 2: Successful testing by Thales

Thales has successfully completed the testing of new deployment scenarios for combat identification and safe firing systems in the framework of field tests carried out at the Mourmelon camp (Marne department of France) for the Phoenix 2 upstream study program (PEA) of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA). The objective of Phoenix 2 is to provide the armed forces with efficient responses that are both quick to implement and cost-effective, and it contributes to the development of current and future land force programs.

Phoenix 2 upstream study program (PEA)
Source: Thales

Recent events in theatres of operations have demonstrated that there are still too many blue and blue fires. It is vital to be able to identify on the ground elements belonging to your own unit or section, as well as those of friendly/hostile forces in the framework of inter-ally or inter-armed forces operations.

A particular objective of the Phoenix 2 tests, which took place between October 1 – 7, 2010 at Mourmelon, was to evaluate the technical solutions enabling „friendly“ situation status exchanges between ground units or with aircrafts. This information should help limit the number of blue and blue fires and collateral damage, be forces conventional, special, air force or navy.

The Phoenix 2 tests have made it possible to validate the technological enhancements proposed by Thales, in the light of feedback provided by the armed forces on the ground. The Thales solutions – Blue Force Tracking (BFT), Reverse IFF, SATURN secure communications and Data-Link 16 – have thus been able to demonstrate their operational capability.

The first tests were focused on the Blue Force Tracking (BFT) solution developed by Thales. This solution, which integrates the PR4G – SOTAS communication and services system pairing, allows all platforms on the ground to communicate their positions on the move and in real-time. The BFT service from Thales, based on the IP standard, also offers the possibility of instantly sharing the gathered data with allies. This service not only makes it possible to have a more accurate view of the tactical situation, but also to accelerate the decisionmaking cycle and ensure the safety of direct shooting and support.

The second batch of tests examined the contribution of air-to-ground identification technologies in the context of close air support. To this end, Thales deployed, with the support of the French Air Force, Special Forces and the French Army, its Reverse IFF along with SATURN secure communications (TRA 6030 transceiver) and Link 16 voice communications and data exchange between support aircraft and coordinators on the ground (Command & Control Centre, Forward Air Controller, etc.).

Reverse IFF, currently undergoing standardisation with NATO, responds to the cooperative identification needs of France and the NATO countries for close air support operations. Thanks to its surrogate capacity (response via substitution), it can link up with a ground position reporting system in order to transmit the local tactical situation. With connection to local tactical networks (BTID and RBSA networks) having already been successfully demonstrated in the international „Bold Quest“ exercises, Thales took advantage of the Phoenix 2 testing to match up Reverse IFF with the BFT service. In this way, Thales has been able to demonstrate the operational utility of this technology for avoiding air-to-groundfriendly fire incidents. Phoenix testing: prime opportunities for exchange between the industry and the armed forces

Organized by Thales, Sagem Défense Sécurité and the DGA for the benefit of the French Army, the Phoenix 2 PEA program draws on feedback from the forces in the field with the purpose of significantly enhancing the combat systems of the French Army by means of rapid and accessible technological improvements. The previous editions of Phoenix have enabled experimentation with the systems and equipments envisaged for the army of the future in the framework of a Concept, Development & Experimentation (CD&E) approach, and to learn lessons about the coordination of sensors, tactical communications needs and how to conduct tactical situations.

The results of the Phoenix testing provide decision-making aid to supplement current studies on how the military needs of future land forces are to be expressed.


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